Blood Red Shoes is on its way with third album
Blood Red Shoes walks a decidedly grittier and lonelier path than many of its indie contemporaries. On their third album In Time to Voices, officially unveiled last Tuesday, guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell favour dirty, crunchy guitars over shiny synths and beats and prefer achingly honest songwriting over pretentious posturing. This sets the English alt-rock duo apart, but their search for a solid identity is not over.
The opening title track is unexpectedly subtle and shimmery at first, foreshadowing the album’s overarching dream-pop influence. However, it’s soon bolstered by Blood Red Shoes’ trademark fireworks burst of heavy guitar noise and fondness for playing with extremes: hard/soft, loud/quiet. “Lost Kids”, meanwhile, is right up the band’s grimy alley, celebrating indie’s lengthy tradition of existential angst with gloomy distortion and lyrics that cry, “Can’t find my way/Already buried anyway.” This is music made to be blasted at max volume in teenage bedrooms, for max parental disturbance.
Still, the way that Carter and Ansell, tag-teaming on vocals, shout with gut-wrenching conviction is more endearing and exciting than annoying. On “Cold”, the intensely catchy first single, their distinct but equally red-raw voices mix smoothly like paint, and the track’s surprisingly strut-worthy rhythm shows the band’s growing confidence with experimentation.
In fact, more of that sonic fearlessness is what In Time to Voices needs. Alongside more engaging stand-outs like the passionately mopey “Stop Kicking” and the slick and slinky “Down Here In the Dark”, are confused disappointments like “The Silence and the Drones”—a drowsy, overproduced downer—and the repetitive, too-nostalgic “Two Dead Minutes”. “7 Years”, the album’s good-bye, is a scintillating gust of shoegaze noise, and while it doesn’t elicit an especially negative reaction, it doesn’t evoke a very positive one either. You get the feeling that Blood Red Shoes is missing something.
Ultimately, In Time to Voices is the sound of a band sure of itself, but not quite sure of its direction. Even so, it’d be worth your while to pay attention to where ever it heads next.